RS 3

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2020 Audi RS 3 Overview

Audi’s A3 subcompact executive sedan, like many Audis, comes in three distinct flavors. The standard A3 is a nicely appointed and fun-to-drive little luxury car with adequate performance. The S3 turns things up a notch in the performance department with more power and sharper handling. The RS 3, meanwhile, is a properly fast car equally at home on a track or on a road trip. In typical Audi fashion, the RS 3 looks slightly more aggressive than the A3 and S3 but still has an understated appearance compared to other cars with similar performance. A new version of the car is in the works, so the RS 3 goes into 2020 largely unchanged.

The S3 that slots below this car is already potent with 288 horsepower in a relatively small package. The RS 3 is in an entirely different league with 394 hp and 354 pound-feet of torque from its 2.5-liter turbocharged 5-cylinder. In addition to the power, this engine also makes a unique (and pleasing) exhaust note that stands out from the rest of the sporty sedan crowd. Cracking through shifts with its 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (DCT) and driving all 4 wheels via the quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, the RS 3 will do 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, but an available Dynamic Plus package raises this figure to 174 mph.

The Dynamic Plus package also comes with fixed sport suspension instead of the standard adaptive dampers as well as front ceramic brakes. Audi’s Drive select feature offers Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Sport, and Individual driving modes that adjust steering, throttle response, shift timing, and damper settings. Sipping premium fuel, the car will return 19 mpg city, 28 highway, and 23 combined.

The interior of the RS 3 is largely similar to the rest of the range, but there is a flat-bottom steering wheel and plenty of “RS” logos throughout to remind you of the car’s sporting intentions. Other standard features include heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Options include a digital gauge cluster with integrated Google Maps, a Bang & Olufsen stereo, and a Technology package that adds built-in navigation, a WiFi hotspot, handwriting recognition, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster that Audi calls the Virtual Cockpit. Given the RS 3’s compact size, the back seats aren’t exactly cavernous. The RS 3 hasn’t been crash-tested, but the A3 is received Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a 5-star overall rating in testing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The RS 3 is expensive for its size but not all that expensive for its performance or relative to its competitors. The Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 is Audi’s most direct competitor. The BMW M2, while only available as a 2-door and more aggressively styled, also offers similar performance at a similar price.

Updated

Since 2012, Andrew Newton has been writing about cars both old and new. Andrew has been an associate editor at Sport Car Digest as well as a contributor to sites like BoldRide and JamesEdition. He was also the Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA before becoming the Auction Editor at Hagerty Classic Car Insurance. He currently splits his time behind the wheel between his NA Miata, 1994 Corvette, and Triumph TR6.

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RS 3

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